Guam – Lawmakers spent most of Monday debating yet bill from Senator Ben Pangelinan which would direct funds that the Guam Waterworks Authority owes to GovGuam’s general fund to pay tax refunds.
Public law 30-145 requires that the Guam Waterworks Authority re-imburse GovGuam’s general fund for bond proceeds that GWA received from a bond that the general fund borrowed and paid for.
Bill 156 appropriates the $18.3 million dollars that GWA owes the general fund to pay out tax refunds, COLA and the expansion of Okkodo High School.
CCU members testified during the committee of the whole that they would have to go out and borrow through another bond in order to pay this money back to the general fund. They also expressed concerns about tapping current bond proceeds to pay back the general fund as it would impact the various capital improvement projects and clean water act compliance projects they have.
Senator Tom Ada introduced an amendment that would prevent GWA from using proceeds from their Nov 2005 bond or their Nov 2010 bond to reimburse the general fund. “They’re not denying the fact that the policy call was made to re-imburse the general fund they’re not denying that they have no issues with how it’s to be dispersed and the only concern they have is the unintended consequences of using the bond issuance,” said Senator Ada.
Ada says the unintended consequences are lower credit ratings and therefore higher interest rates for future bond borrowing efforts. “It makes it very clear that we will not touch the proceeds from the bonds that GWA has issued out earlier,” said Senator Ada.
Senator Pangelinan was opposed to this amendment because he felt that it was a form of repealing the law that requires that GWA re-imburse the general fund. “And if you want to do that I would ask respectfully that we do that in a separate bill,” said Senator Pangelinan.
The bill’s author would rather see the issue of where the re-imbursements are to come from be debated separately from this bill. “If you don’t want to allow GWA to reimburse it then introduce a bill that says you don’t want to do it from this source don’t put it on the bill that says when that reimbursement comes this is what I want to use it for,” said Pangelinan.
Senator Ada’s amendment passed however the bill was eventually withdrawn from the floor without moving it to the voting file.